N.J. Democrat-Turned-Republican Wins Re-Election to Congress

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U.S. Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey won reelection less than a year after he left the Democratic Party, declared himself a Republican and pledged fealty to President Donald Trump.

With 80% of the vote counted, the Associated Press declared Van Drew the victor for southern New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. He defeated Democrat Amy Kennedy, 41, a mental-health advocate, former teacher and mother of five. Kennedy is married to Patrick Kennedy, the former Rhode Island congressman and son of the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.

Van Drew had 52% of the votes to Kennedy’s 47%, according to the AP.

The district has a fickle history. It twice voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president, but chose Republican Trump in 2016. In 2018 it picked Van Drew, 67, then a Democrat, to replace a Republican who had declined to run after 18 years in office.

Van Drew stunned supporters in December when he voted against impeaching Trump, changed parties and in a White House meeting pledged “undying support” to a president who is unpopular in New Jersey. Some of Van Drew’s onetime supporters -- who had included Kennedy -- called the switch an attempt to ride Trump’s coattails.

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